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November 30, 2008

Second-half comeback not quite enough as Golden Eagles fall by six

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Rallying from a 25-point deficit, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team scratched its way back to within four points before running out of time and dropping the opening game of the Florida Atlantic University Thanksgiving Classic to the host Owls, 70-64, Saturday afternoon.

The Golden Eagles (1-4) overcame a first-half in which they shot 29 percent overall, including 1-for-9 from long distance, and found themselves on the bottom half of a 57-32 difference early in the second half.

"We made good decisions and we took good shots, we just couldn't get anything to fall," said third-year coach Amy Brown.

Using a full-court press and displaying aggressive defense, Tech held FAU to just two points during an 12-minute span, and slowly pulled itself within striking distance.

"If we can get that kind of effort and hustle for 40 minutes, we'll be all right," Brown said. "We finally got some shots to drop and played really well defensively."

In the end, the Owls (3-2) knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes that proved the deciding points.

The Golden Eagles will wrap up the tournament in the consolation game Sunday at 2 p.m. CST against Georgia Tech, which lost to No. 9 Texas, 76-68, in the second game of the tournament Saturday. FAU and Texas tangle for the title.

Freshman Krystal Stirrup was tops in the game in both scoring and rebounding. She hit 6-of-8 shots to score a game-high 16 points along with nine rebounds.

Stirrup was one of three players scoring in double digits for Tech, with senior Allison Price adding 15 points and three assists and senior Meagan Lyons contributing 10 points, four rebounds and three steals. Sophomore Jasmine White had eight points and eight rebounds.

FAU, which has won three straight, had four players in twin figures in the scorebook, led by Jamie Givens and Breana Turner with 11 each. Jessica Knurick and Carla Stubbs netted 10 each for the Owls.

Tech raced out to a 7-2 lead in the opening minutes, before FAU found the range. The Owls, who were shooting just 26 percent from 3-point distance coming into the game, went 4-for-10 from outside the arc and shot 53 percent from the field overall in the first half to build their lead.

The last time Tech was within single digits was an eight-point FAU lead, 27-19, with 6:09 to go in the half. The Owls pushed the margin to 20 points with one minute to play, and led 49-28 at the break.

The largest lead of the night was 25 points early in the second half, when Turner's layup with 16:14 to play made it 59-43.

That's when Tech went to a full-court press and held FAU to two points over the next 12 minutes.

The 19-2 run by the Golden Eagles allowed Tech to pull to within eight points, 61-53, with 5:23 remaining.

Trailing by seven following a layup by Stirrup with 4:01 to go, the Golden Eagles forced another turnover and Price canned a 3-pointer with 2:46 remaining to make it a four-point game, 62-58.

Then, with 2:16 left, Lambert made a 3-pointer for the Owls - their first of the second half - to make it 65-58. White made a layup to get it back down to five points, 65-60, and Andrea Taylor drained another 3-pointer with 1:01 left to lift the Owls back to an eight-point edge.

Tech shot 53.6 percent in the second half and finished the game hitting 40.7 percent overall. After the 1-for-9 in the first half, Tech was 3-for-5 from long range in the second. FAU hit 36.4 percent in the second half and 46.2 for the game.

Tech had a 39-33 edge in rebounds and forced 27 turnovers with 13 steals.